Abraham Lincoln doesn’t make much of an appearance in Sidney Blumenthal’s All the Powers of Earth: The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln, Volume III, 1856-1860 until around page 180, entering his own story almost as if through a side door. Then, with rapidly gathering momentum, he becomes the story, which is Lincoln’s masterful negotiation of the political, economic, and social currents that swept him into the White House in 1860 and inevitably took America into the Civil War.
All the Powers of Earth is the third of a proposed five volumes unique in American historical writing. focusing on the rise of Lincoln as a political animal in a national climate shaped by early 19th century giants Daniel Webster, John C. Calhoun, and Henry Clay with increasing tensions over slavery—tensions exacerbated by such men as Jefferson Davis, Stephen Douglas, and John Brown.
Blumenthal has written more than a dozen books on American politics and history, beginning with the prescient The Permanent Campaign about politicians who campaign for reelection throughout an electoral cycle, leaving little time for governing. (Sound familiar?) He has written extensively about politics for the New Yorker, the Washington Post, and the New Republic, often using insight gained from the inside of the political world as an aide to President Bill Clinton.